Run-on Sentences by Shmoop
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Run-on Sentences by Shmoop


Run-on sentences, a la Shmoop.
Run-on sentences are bad grammar everyone knows this except apparently for a few authors
who think it’s okay to throw proper punctuation out the door in the name of their craft leaving
the reader to suffer as he or she struggles to figure out where one thought ends and the
next begins. Whew. Now that we’ve survived an encounter
with a run-on sentence, let’s talk about what this particular piece of bad grammar
actually…is. While some people think that run-on sentences
are just long… …like, really, really, really long… …a run-on sentence actually occurs when sentences
are smashed together without the benefit of any internal punctuation. Run-on sentences may induce confusion… …hysteria… …and even the urge to throw books… …so use extreme caution when constructing
sentences. The nice thing about run-on sentences is that
they are easily fixed, and we have a whole slew of tools to choose from… …including colons, coordinating conjunctions,
dashes, periods, and semicolons. So, let’s look at some examples of run-on
sentences and how to fix ’em. Say we have the run-on sentence, “William
Faulkner is a well-known American author he lived in Mississippi for most of his life
you can visit his house in Oxford and see where he scribbled all over the bathroom wall.” How can we fix this crime against grammar?
Not to mention against poor Mr. Faulkner? Well, we could deploy several periods, so
we end up with… …”William Faulkner is a well-known American
author…period…He lived in Mississippi for most of his life…period…You can visit his
house in Oxford and see where he scribbled all over the bathroom wall.” Or, we could deploy some periods and
a well-placed “who” to get… …”William Faulkner is a well-known American
author who lived in Mississippi for most of his life…period…You can visit his house
in Oxford and see where he scribbled all over the bathroom wall.”
Let’s look at a different example. “Jim is a fan of Cormac McCarthy’s novels however
he had a big problem when he tried to read The Crossing half of that book is written
in Spanish.” Well, let’s fix this grammar disaster. We could do this: “Jim is a big fan of Cormac
McCarthy’s novels…period…However…comma… he had a big problem when he tried to read
The Crossing…colon…half of that book is written in Spanish.” Or, we could do this: “Jim is a fan of Cormac
McCarthy’s novels…comma…although he had a big problem when he tried to read The Crossing…dash…half
of that book is written in Spanish.” Or, we could try door number 3: “Jim is a
fan of Cormac McCarthy’s novels…period… However…comma…he had a problem when he
tried to read The Crossing because half of that book is written in Spanish.”
Run-on sentences can be difficult for the reader to comprehend. So, while most of us will never have a really
good reason to deploy a run-on sentence… …this doesn’t mean we won’t encounter run-on sentences in literature. For example, take this lengthy entry from
James Joyce’s novel, Ulysses… “I was a Flower of the mountain yes when
I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how
he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then
I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes…” Let’s stop right there. That’s fifty-eight
words without the benefit of any internal punctuation, and while that may seem like
a lot… …the truth is that Joyce’s sentence actually
continues for another fifty-three words. Holy moly. That gives us a total of one hundred
and eleven words, no pauses, no stop until the very end.
While we could never get away with writing like this… …because our English teachers would lynch
us… …great authors with lots of critical acclaim
and assorted Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes might decide that a particular story calls for run-on
sentences. So, unless the literary critics start calling
us “the next Ernest Hemingway”, we need to stick to proper internal punctuation… …and avoid run-on sentences.

20 Comments

  • sam anderson

    The thing is make me so confused That why sometimes use comma and coordinating conjunction and other use only comma , and both cases use the comma to separate independent clauses? Please one tell me why ,,,,

  • Cyrek

    I have a question if the sentence "Until she went to the library to study" I wanna make it as a run on how do I do it . I wrote un my test "she went to the library to study , she got sleepy"

  • Band Geek

    What's wrong with run-on sentences they aren't bad are they sometimes they make complete sense to me I don't know why people hate them some much so why do you have to dis run-on sentences cause they are just normal sentences i mean have you ever heard the saying "Bigger is better" and if you haven't then that sucks for you but anyway if bigger is better then sentences should be as long as people in fact the next essay I write should be about run-on sentences and how they are discriminated and the essay should be on entire run-on sentence cause if I want to support I should at least use and example in my essay but I can only use one because if I add two then there would have to be a period somewhere in there and I don't want that because I only want one period in my run-on sentence essay heck what i'm typing right now should be my essay, but I don't really have a hook and most likely anyone who started reading this has stopped reading, hit the like button, and commented, or they stopped reading, turned off their computer and threw it out the window oh dear I hope they don't do the second one because then they could sue me, but what could they sue me for if anything they would be sued for Disturbance of the Peace or is that when you get arrested, but it's not like it really matters I really have to stop doing this my brain is hurting from not putting down a period anywhere but ya know that's life when you don't want more than one period in an entire essay oh and also I like chips.

  • Prince Brandon

    There was a sentence in the video that had the word "breast". Please give a disclaimer as many educators will probably use this during instruction at the primary and secondary levels. Thank you.

  • fijiwater

    3:22 "Let's just stop right there because we're a G rated sight" So you left the rest of the page that was clearly not G rated? You left it in the video long enough for them to read it without them pausing it…

  • Grammar By Dan

    What's up, homies! If you're interested in learning English – have a look at this video here on sentences, fragments, and run-ons. Everyone should know this!!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jH454ewqNHk

  • Jayden Rodriguez

    I saw this in school. Thanks so much and the voice crack was funny. lolololololololololololololololololololololololol

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